Escanaba JCPenney store closing

ESCANABA — One of Escanaba’s iconic retailers — the JCPenney store in the Delta Plaza Mall — is closing this year to save costs and increase company profits, corporate officials announced Friday morning, releasing a list of 138 stores closing nationwide.

Forty local employees — called “associates” — will be affected by the Escanaba store closure, according to Kate Coultas, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications and Public Relations in Plano, Texas.

“The store will be closing around mid-June,” said the company spokesperson in a telephone interview with the Daily Press. “The liquidation process will begin in mid-April.”

JCPenney has been a major retailer in the Delta Plaza Mall for many years. Prior to the mall location, the store operated for decades on Ludington Street in downtown Escanaba where the Dream Day Event Center is now located.

Other Upper Peninsula JCPenney stores on the closure list include Kingsford, Houghton and Sault Ste. Marie. JCPenney stores closing downstate are located in Battle Creek, Holland and Midland. The JCPenney store in Marinette is also on the closure list along with five other store locations in Wisconsin.

Coultas said, following the store closings, the nearest JCPenney store in Michigan for Escanaba customers will be in Traverse City. The Marquette JCPenney store closed during the summer of 2014.

Employees at the Escanaba store will be among approximately 5,000 positions nationwide that will be impacted by the JCPenney closures with most scheduled to shut down in June. The company is closing the stores to cut costs and concentrate sales at stronger locations while competing against the growing threat of online retailers.

According to a company statement Coultas emailed to the Daily Press, “As part of a continuing effort to advance sustainable growth and long-term profitability, JCPenney Company, Inc. will be closing 138 stores, one ­

supply chain facility in Lakeland, Fla., and relocating one supply chain facility in Buena Park, Calif., to align the company’s physical store footprint and omnichannel network.”

Omnichannel is a multi-channel sales approach that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a store.

The company statement says it’s essential for JCPenney to adjust its store portfolio and invest in store locations that offer “the best expression of the JCPenney brand and can function as a seamless extension of the omnichannel experience.”

The 138 JCPenney stores slated to close nationwide represent less than 5 percent of the company’s total annual sales, according to officials who estimate the store closings will actually save the corporation approximately $200 million a year.

Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney, stated in a press release regarding the store closings, “We believe we must take aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth. During the year, it became evident the stores that could fully execute the company’s growth initiatives of beauty, home refresh, and special sizes generated significantly higher sales and a more vibrant in-store shopping environment.”

Ellison also commented that closing stores “is never an easy decision, especially given the local impact on valued employees and our most loyal shoppers.”

Employees impacted by the store closures will receive separation benefits and assistance in identifying and preparing for other employment opportunities.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,